It’s not often that a player who is not involved in an inter-county championship game finds himself the centre of attention.
But in the case of long-serving Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton nothing really should come as a surprise any more.
When the Dubs lined out against Wexford in the Leinster Championship yesterday Cluxton was conspicuous by his absence and naturally the tongues started wagging.
And this prompted Dublin manager Dessie Farrell to give his own response to the rumourmongers who were out in force.
“The situation is very simple, Stephen isn’t with us at the moment,” the Sky Blues boss declared.
“He’s gone back to his club and he’s just taking time to heal the body, maybe to regenerate the appetite.
“I don’t know to be honest whether Stephen will be back or not. But he’s not retired, he’s just stepped away.
Understandably, it was business as usual on the field for Dublin – but only to an extent.
There was no free-scoring extravaganza against a courageous Wexford side who rose to the occasion and delivered a performance rich in commitment and courage in going down to the All-Ireland champions 0-15 to 0-7.
It was only the third time since former manager Jim Gavin took charge in 2013 that Dublin were held to single digits in a Leinster Championship match.
Dean Rock and Cormac Costello were among the much-decorated players who led their team’s scoring and yesterday’s win takes them into an interesting Leinster semi-final with Meath.
Farrell, who was back on the sideline after serving a three-month suspension for his squad’s Covid training breach, took responsibility for the breach at the end of March and took the opportunity to personally apologise.
“It was difficult,” he said of the suspension. “Difficult and challenging is all relative to the context of what the country is going through the last 18 months.
“I, 100 per cent, regret it happened and I think ultimately as manager of the team, that decision rests with me and I take full responsibility for that.
“And I take this opportunity again to apologise for it. It is not the standard I set myself on a personal level. I fell short on that front. All you can do is take the learnings and move forward and that’s what we did.”
It may be ‘only’ a provincial tie but try telling that to Meath manager Andy McEntee who watched as his side handed out an unmerciful drubbing to listless Longford yesterday.
Meath won by 4-22 to 0-12 with goals from Jack O’Connor, Cathal Healy, Shane McEntee and Jordan Morris.
Such was the disappointment at the result in his county that Longford manager Padraic Davis tendered his resignation immediately after the game .
“I’m not getting any younger, I’ve a young family, I’ve a busy business,” said a visibly deflated Davis.
“And looking at the scoreboard there I ask do I have the energy to train and pick that up again and go again? And if I’m honest, I don’t.”